Few artists can cultivate a cult following without releasing a proper album, but Kali Uchis is one of them. The D.C.-raised Colombian singer’s last proper project came out almost three years ago, and yet she’s still able to sell out concerts and work with major musicians like Tyler, the Creator and the Gorillaz. Nowhere was her potential stardom more obvious than at her sold-out headlining show at the World Cafe Live Oct. 18.
Decked out in ripped denim and colored glasses, the hip crowd looked like they were ready for their own photoshoot. Crammed into the venue, the crowd erupted into applause as a stagehand brought out a mic stand draped in flowers. Soon, the lights dimmed and the opening band Phony Ppl came back on stage, which was a bit confusing. But soon the opening chords of “Sycamore Tree” began to play, and the crowd erupted into cheers as Uchis’ sultry voice could be heard from back stage.
Uchis released her most recent body of work, “Por Vida,” back in early 2015. Since then, she has released a handful of singles, like the smooth, Vince Staples and Steve Lacy-assisted “Only Girl” and the bouncy “Tyrant.” Inspired by Colombian music from the ’60s, Uchis’ music feels nostalgic and sexy. While no firm date has been announced, Uchis is rumored to release her debut album “Fool’s Paradise” later this year.
Decked out in a silver bikini top and Adidas running pants, Uchis was captivating on stage. Flashing small smiles here and there, she sauntered across the stage, posing on a set of wooden steps. She was met with raucous cheers when she began to swing her hips. Uchis dried herself off with towels which she threw into the crowd. Fighting over a sweat-drenched towel would usually be completely baffling, but felt completely normal at a Kali Uchis show.
At the tail end of her tour, Uchis seemed both well-polished and a bit bored. She ran through older hits like “Speed” and “Lottery” off of “Por Vida” as well as newer material such as “Tyrant.” She even performed her feature on Tyler, the Creator’s song “See You Again.” One of the highlights was when Uchis performed “Nuestro Planeta,” her reggaeton track that’s a bit bouncier than her other material. It’s also her first commercial release that’s entirely in Spanish, an ode to her Colombian roots. Uchis ended her set with her hit single “Ridin Round” off of “Por Vida,” and finished with a cover of Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente.” If you missed Uchis, fret not. She’ll be returning in January at a much larger venue, opening for Lana Del Rey at the Wells Fargo Center. Until then, you’ll just have to bide your time waiting for Uchis’ album to drop.